TCs' annual report 2014-15: indepth look at the North West

Every day this week, the Transport Law Blog will bring you an in depth look at the trends in each traffic area, as detailed in the Traffic Commissioners' Annual Reports 2014-15.

Deputy traffic commissioner (TC) Simon Evans conducted the majority of public inquiries (PIs) in the North West traffic area, as a result of North West TC Beverley Bell’s responsibilities as senior TC.

The number of PIs held dropped slightly from 120 in 2013-14 to 107 in 2014-15 as a greater number of shorter, less formal preliminary hearings were held in their place.Evans said such hearings were “no less rigorous in examining the root causes of non-compliance and critically how such issues can quickly and effectively be addressed”.

In the coming year, the requirement for selected operators and transport managers in the traffic area to attend a meeting with senior Office of the Traffic Commissioner staff will be introduced in the North West. This will take place in cases where formal intervention is needed, but a PI or preliminary hearing is not justified.

“The sorts of matter thought to be susceptible to this sort of approach include where operators need simple encouragement to come back into line, where education is required, straightforward undertakings can be imposed or where financial standing seems likely to be met but there have been difficulties finalising the position,” added Evans.

Common issues that result in professional drivers being called to a hearing include consuming alcohol prior to, or whilst, driving.

Evans said: “These cases simply serve to re-emphasise the expectation of the TCs that operators will need to have done all that is practically possible to exclude that prospect through clear employment policies and practices and through the support offered to staff.

“Reconsideration by operators of their policies in relation to the use of substances by drivers in this regard would seem very timely with the new criminal offences of “drug driving” recently coming into force. The uncertainties of previous formulation of the law in offences of driving whilst unfit are to be removed because of sophisticated testing devices that will be available to the police.”

North West traffic area in numbers

O-licences in issue and goods vehicles specified:
Restricted: 5,656 O-licences in issue. 13,191 vehicles specified.
Standard National: 4,038 O-licences in issue. 24,601 vehicles specified.
Standard International:  977 O-licences in issue. 10,929 vehicles specified.
Total number of specified vehicles: 48,721.
Total number of O-licences in issue: 10,671.

O-licence applications:
New O-licences issued in full: 619.
New O-licences applied for: 683.

Public inquiries:
PIs completed: 107.
Licence revocations: 26.
Licence suspensions: 5.
Curtailment or conditions opposed: 32.
Formal warning: 35.
Operator disqualification: 4.
Transport manager disqualification: 4.
No action taken: 10.

LCV prices down for second month

Rising volumes and poor condition put pressure on used LCV values in August according to commercial vehicle auction company BCA.

The firm said average values for light commercial vehicles fell for the second month running, albeit marginally, as rising volumes of stock continued to reach the wholesale markets.

Values declined from £5,544 in July to £5,507 in August, a fall of £37 (0.6%) over the month.

While fleet and lease values declined by £92 over the month, dealer part-ex stock rose in value by £87 to the highest point seen this year.  

There was also a fall in the average value of nearly-new stock, largely as a result of changing mix in a low volume sector.

The fleet and lease sector recorded average values of £6,188 in August, a fall of £92 (1.4%) compared to July. 

Average part-exchange LCV values rose by £87 (2.3%) in August to £3,810 - the highest monthly value recorded since November 2014.